Before I had written one note of music for this record, I already had a whole list of song titles. One of the nice things about making mostly instrumental music is that titles can flow freely from ideas rather than being tethered to the words that someone chooses to sing over the music. I got lucky that the collaborators on Dead Weight were able to work with or around my titles--even though there's no reference to a "Nation of Bling" in the lyrics, Non and I both liked the title so it stuck for that song.
I've had a fairly dogged system for coming up with titles and even themes for Larvae records so far, and Exit Strategy falls right in line with the rest. For the most part, the Larvae discography is broken up into full length albums that reflect relatively serious and sometimes personal themes, and shorter EPs or Singles that work to lighten things up a bit. Monster Music was a goofy homage to Godzilla, but Fashion Victim was written as a sort of culture critique. Empire was once again a fun way to explore movies through music (this time, Star Wars,) followed by Dead Weight, a moody record written at a time when I felt the need to make Larvae more personal again.
As I was preparing to leave my home of Atlanta after 12 eventful years, potential song titles seemed to pop up everywhere. I kept a running list of titles on a scrap piece of paper in my kitchen as I went through the motions of packing up and closing the door on a major chapter in my life. Eventually, many of the preliminary titles made it to final songs on the album. But like the previous LPs, I wanted the album itself to have a very specific name.
I think that I learned this from KMFDM of all places. Say what you will about KMFDM, but they went on a run there for a while with incredibly consistent titles and album covers and I always thought it helped to distinguish their work (since the music itself didn't help much.) I admired their ability to stick to those one-word, five-letter titles for so long, something they did mostly to sell t-shirts, I think. UAIOE, NAIVE, MONEY, ANGST, NIHIL, XTORT, etc.
All of the previous Larvae albums had two-word titles that could be interpreted in a couple of different ways but always included a word that made them sound kind of melancholy or even harsh: Fashion Victim, Dead Weight, Loss Leader... so I knew that the next Larvae record needed to fit in. I take a certain comfort in the fact that these things have some continuity. Fashion Victim - two words that mean completely opposite things depending on the person using them. Dead Weight - two words that refer to a very real, literal problem in my life and also hint at a more metaphorical one. Loss Leader - two words that evoke sadness but actually come from the world of commerce (some might not see the tension there.) Now, Exit Strategy - two words that point to a way to leave a situation, though they don't necessarily explain who is leaving and from where.
I like this symmetry, and it's honestly been a conscious part of my game plan from the beginning, but I don't think I've ever wanted to explain it to anyone until now. I don't know how most musicians come up with titles for their work, but now you know a little bit about how I come up with the titles for mine.